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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal March 2014

Last Post 1423 days 13 hours ago

Botanics & Mothers' Day

30 March 2014 23:08:54

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Yesterday we made a fleeting visit to the Botanic Gardens but even in the hour that we were there I could see many changes since last month. My priorities were to see the Alpine House, Orchids and proteas, all of which I did. I have put an album up.

Today was Mothers' Day so I was busy being pampered, as I'm sure were many of you. I took a few photos between the showers and the pampering.

Douentza, March 2014

First Auricula

28 March 2014 17:49:59
Primula auricula 'Alice Haysom'

Primula auricula 'Alice Haysom'

Like Sally, my auriculas are just coming into flower.

This is the first and she is called Alice Haysom.

Big Plants

28 March 2014 15:44:33
Can you see the tulips coming?

Can you see the tulips coming?

I spent the morning potting on.

Not seedlings, larger plants...

Furcraea, Epiphyllum, Brugmnasia, Aloe, Senecio, Tibouchina, Aeonium, Boophane and others.

There's a lot to do at the moment and the garden needs attention.

I'm sure it will come together in the end.

I liked this shot of the house plant because it shows all my tulip pots outside, brimming with promise :)



27 March 2014 23:13:44
Sinningia speciosa

Sinningia speciosa

I think the correct name for this plant is Sinningia speciosa, although generally known as gloxinia!

I could get hooked!

Last Pleione

27 March 2014 22:47:34
Pleione Shantung

Pleione Shantung

... Well, it's the last of the fancy pleiones anyway.

The ordinary ones are just opening now, the largest pot being in the greenhouse.

This is Pleione Shantung.

I like it.

I'm very pleased with those Lidl herb pots. They really worked well for showing off the pleiones this year.

Begonia luxurians

27 March 2014 14:19:25
Begonia luxurians

Begonia luxurians

We spotted this plant in Great Dixter and Kew last summer. It was Deborah who identified it. It is a glorious, exotic, tender plant that is shy of direct sun and grows to 6-10 ft, like an enormous graceful umbrella.

We didn't find it for sale anywhere and then, once home, to rub salt in the wound, June Blake had one in her garden!

At one stage Deborah, Liga and myself were in a frenzy looking for it. We forged alliances and passed on leads but in the end we all found our separate sources.

This is my specimen, bought as a plug last autumn. It is growing well and fast and I expect great things from it.

A Few More Plants

26 March 2014 15:19:04

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I spent the morning in the greenhouse, potting on - mostly ricinus. And some begonia tubers.

I noticed a few things looking well.

The first is rhipsalidopsis, which is coming into bud now. This succulent was grown from a cutting given to me by RitaD, a brilliant gardener of exotic plants who has sadly passed away.

The second is a photo of the first of my double, red freesias to come into flower. We'll say no more!

The third photo is Veratrum californicum, which we say in Beth Chatto's garden last summer and just had to have. I think I was not the only one to buy it in her nursery! But I never got to plant it last year so it will go into my new border soon.


26 March 2014 15:00:29
Anemonella thalictroides 'Cameo'

Anemonella thalictroides 'Cameo'

This is anemonella and my second try with this lovely little woodland plant.

I lost one last summer, with a farfugium, to drought. Remember the summer we had! I wouldn't complain though if we got the same sun again this year.

Anyway, I was determined to try again with anemonella so when I saw the root for sale I snapped it up.

Protea Update

26 March 2014 14:54:21
Protea Update

Protea Update

Just a little update on my proteas, especially for anyone who read my article in the April Irish Garden.

Almost all of them have germinated by now.

I carry my heart in my mouth, though, whenever I have to water them as root disturbance can be a killer at this stage.

A Few More

25 March 2014 22:09:47

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Here are a few more photos but there are more in my April album.

I was pleased to see sinningia coming into flower.

My Primula marginata is looking very good at the moment and all the flower stems have straigtened up. The auricuas aren't far behind.

And this is a chrysanthemum I picked up in Avoca on my travels on the weekend. I love the colour but it had no name.

Douentza, March 2014


Nice but windy

25 March 2014 21:31:46

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It was nice but windy here today.

I finished the pruning of the paulownia and then got immediately distracted and started working on that border.

My favourite border at the moment is the one beyond the greenhouse, the 'new' shady border that includes the Hardy Orchid Bed.

There are all kinds of treats popping up there now.

Out & About

24 March 2014 23:49:31

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Myself and the hubby celebrated a significant anniversary last weekend so we were up in Dublin being pampered.

We were 30 years together, 25 married last Saturday. Now I feel old!

On Sunday hubby suggested a visit to Helen Dillon's and I was really pleased because I had never been there in spring. The garden was beautiful and, although Helen complained that no one wants to come see it in spring, I felt that she did not know us garden.ie-ers very well!

Here are a few photos. I will put up an album tomorrow.

Tulips & Erythroniums

22 March 2014 00:24:42

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I know some people have had them in flower  for a week or more, but my first tulips have only opened now.

They are the kaufmanniana type called 'Giuseppe Verdi' and they have been going strong in the ground since I planted them in 2010.

Other tulips are popping up around the garden and in the pots but they will be later to bloom.

I got out to the garden in the early morning and caught some nice light for photos.

The first erythroniums are also up but they were in shade when I took the photo so had closed their petals.

I did some more potting but the weather was very changeable.

Yum Yum

20 March 2014 19:56:38
Impatiens niamniamensis

Impatiens niamniamensis

There was not much time for gardening today and when I saw the rain, and later the hail, bucketing down I was glad I'd done a bit yesterday.

Here is Impatiens niamniamensis in flower. It's a house plant but I intend putting this baby in the garden in a pot in the summer as it gets quite big so will add to the pot display.

Isn't the name funny? It seems like a joke name. The 'niamniam' bit of it reminds me of the French 'miam miam', which means 'yum yum'. So, is the plant impatient for its yumyums, I wonder? Or are we impatient to it it? I don't think I'll be trying it!

Pelargoniums Etc.

19 March 2014 19:28:29
Pelargoniums Etc.

Pelargoniums Etc.

I did a little planting this morning, mostly the spring bulbs that I have in pots in the greenhouse. It was time to find them a permanent address.

Of course there was some weeding and clearing done too and even a bit of snowdrop dividing.

Just when I was about to come indoors, a parcel arrived. It was the pelargoniums Tina and myself ordered ages ago. So, of course, I had to go inspect them. And then, of course, they had to be potted up.

I am very pleased with the size and quality of the plants. Some of them are half reared already! I hope to have some lovely pot displays this summer.

Annual Alpine Show

18 March 2014 19:32:22
Primula 'Avondale' & Chionodoxa 'Pink Giant'

Primula 'Avondale' & Chionodoxa 'Pink Giant'

I was just wondering who was planning to go to the Annual Alpine Show of the Alpine Garden Society of Ireland?

I have been two years in a row now and would not miss it (and this, despite having only a passing interest in alpines).

The show takes place on...

Saturday, 26 April, 1.30 – 4.00 pm. Cabinteely Community School, Dublin.

Despite being a small show, there are tables of beautiful exhibits, nurseries with plants for sale, refreshments and, if you get there early, there is a members' plant sale.

I thoroughly recommend it.

Here is a link with more information, including the nurseries who will attend. Many of them will let you order plants for collection at the show...

Alpine Show Details

Ipheoin uniflorum

17 March 2014 23:28:30
Ipheoin uniflorum

Ipheoin uniflorum

I love this little cutie.

It seems so delicate and fragile but is in reality a hardy little spreader.

It is apparently hardy to -15.

Ipheoin comes from Argentina originally and is in the onion family and, although they are supposed to flower in spring, mine have been so confused since I got them last autumn that they have been flowering in dribs and drabs pretty constantly all winter.

A big thank you to Paddy and Mary for giving me this lovely little plant.


Little Blue flowers

17 March 2014 17:47:34
Hepatica nobilis

Hepatica nobilis

It seems that I only have to look at the greenhouse sideways when I see another plant that needs potting on.

I've potted various begonias, furcraea, impatiens, aristea, plectanthus and orchids recently.

Today we got around to restaking a few trees, unhinged by the recent winds, including the clianthus which is partially in flower and is now visible.

The nights are warmer and there's been no need for greenhouse heating.

The garden is breaking out in little blue flowers wherever I look. Like these hepaticas, which our Latvian and Lithuanian friends will be quick to tell us, remind them of home :)

The first of my proteas germinated in the greenhouse today. I am glad to see a return for all that work.

Daffodil Hill

16 March 2014 15:32:17
Daffodil Hill

Daffodil Hill

I planted these daffodils on a hill a few years back and they make a lovely sight in spring.

Because they are on a hill and because they are yellow, you can see them from a distance.

What more appropriate sight for Paddy's Day.

Have a Great Saint Patrick's Day, everyone.

Sun Out

15 March 2014 13:47:28
Primula marginata 'Nancy Lucy'

Primula marginata 'Nancy Lucy'

It was very overcast this morning but now the sun is out.

Prompted by Jacinta, I potted up my amorphophallus - nine pots, one A. konjac is quite big. Maybe this will be the year that it flowers!

We are off to Dublin now so enjoy your day, however you spend it.

PS Thanks again, Joan, I just love this alpine primrose.

Grass & Weeding

14 March 2014 15:54:33
Grass & Weeding

Grass & Weeding

Spent the day gardening. Found a weedy bed but put pay to that!

There will be no mulch this year and me and my garden are really going to miss it.

The grass got its first cut but, unfortunately, the ride-on is on the blink again so it had to be hand done.

There's nothing like seeing the garden 'emerge' after the first grass cut.

Primrose Id Please

14 March 2014 15:28:24
Primrose Id Please

Primrose Id Please

I think we all have primrose fever at the moment!

Can anyone help with the name of this gorgeous little double yellow primula.

I wasn't mad about it when I got it first last year but now it's growing on me and I think it's just lovely and can't understand why I wasn't in love with it last year :P

It would be nice to get a name.

I noticed lots of native primroses in flower in the hedgerows over the last few days.

Bob's Story

13 March 2014 22:46:42
Cattleya Bob Betts

Cattleya Bob Betts

This is the story of Bob. Or Cattleya Bob Betts, to give him his full name.

Bob is a white cattleya orchid, the result of extensive cross breeding to get that pure whiteness. He is widely considered the finest of white cattleyas.

But it is a sad story too and has to include the tale of Bob's grandmother.

Bob's grandmother was Cattleya Suzanne Hye, who was one of the most magnificent and valuable cattleyas ever. This was in the days before the meristem propagation system had been discovered so the only way to exactly reproduce an orchid was to divide it. That meant waiting years for plants to bulk up enough to be big enough to divide.

Anyway, Suzanne Hye was so outstanding that her breeders did everything possible to see nothing happened to her. When it was clear that Germany was planning to invade Great Britain, they took the unusual step of packing up the plant and shipping it to safety in the United States where it would be over 3000 miles from the war zone.

Safe passage, however, was not on the cards for poor Cattleya Suzanne Hye and the boat on which she was traveling to America was torpedoed by a German submarine. The boat sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and the plant was lost forever.

So, Fran and Peter, you chose a good one when you betted on this one opening first. A good yet tardy one!

Cilipense & the Rhodo Bed

12 March 2014 17:16:04

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I did a bit of travelling about today but was unsucessful in getting my hands on some more of that red primrose I bought recently.

On my way back I detoured to Altamont. The Plant Sales had been closed last time I was there. I spotted this lovely Rhododendron 'Cilipense', an early flowerer that I had been hoping to find for sale somewhere. It was very good value at €11.50 in full flower. It will be handy for the new rhodo bed I have to plant.

The second photo is from the garden. I am nearly sure this hellebore was one of a pack of seedlings I got in Johnstown, marked Hillier's Doubles. It's a nice one, wherever it came from.

More Pleiones

12 March 2014 10:06:44
Pleione Mandalay 'Strawberry Fields'

Pleione Mandalay 'Strawberry Fields'

For those who have not yet reached the pleione saturation point, there are a few new photos in my orchid album.

My Orchids 2014


11 March 2014 17:13:55

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I know everyone will have been out in the garden today, unless they were working.

Isn't the weather brilliant!


11 March 2014 16:18:07
Mandragora officinalis

Mandragora officinalis

This is mandrake, a plant used in many superstitious rituals and concoctions in the past.

It is highly poisonous but was supposed to cure a variety of ails.

Those with kids may remember the Harry Potter film, where the students at Hogworts had to repot the screaming mandrake plants!

If I am lucky these flowers will now form into large green fruits, as seen in Helen Dillon's garden.


10 March 2014 18:21:11


Has anyone else noticed that there are loads of ladybirds so far this year?

There seemed to be very few the last few years.

It's a good thing, of course.

We all want the ladybirds to keep on top of those aphids!

Some Variegation

10 March 2014 18:08:14

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There's a super 'foxy smell' going on in the far right of the greenhouse at the moment.

I just love the odd scent of crown fritellaries.

The one in the greenhouse is Fritellaria imperialis 'Aureomarginata' and it's a variegated one with creamy yellow edges to its leaves.

The second photo shows Hacquetis epipactis 'Thor', which is also variegated and a great little do-er.

It just minds its own business and comes up when its supposed to, no messing!

We all hate the messing!


Altamont Again

07 March 2014 23:37:52
Altamont Again

Altamont Again

My daughter was home for a visit so we  trooped off to Altamont.

I was taking photos but they gave out, saying it was like I'd never been! And what could there be for me to photograph? Not gardners, eh?

So there are only about five photos but I'll upload them tomorrow a.m.

New Primula

07 March 2014 19:34:11
Primula 'Belarina Valentine'

Primula 'Belarina Valentine'

I spotted this gem on my travels today and, although I'm not convinced about red primroses in general, I had to have it.

I think red usually looks out of place in spring and that the paler colours, including yellow, are much fresher and more pleasing early on.

But having said all that, it was hard to resist such a deep, rich colour and those double flowers.

It seems to be part of the 'Belarina' primrose series which includes 'Pink Ice'. I think someone recently put up a journal about 'Pink Ice', which is also a stunner.

Star Wars

05 March 2014 18:46:28
Pleione Star Wars

Pleione Star Wars

The heating oil is finished so it was as warm in the garden as the house today.

Liga always comes to visit in March, just after the heating oil runs out so I contacted her to see what her plans were. And, guess what? She said she had been thinking of a visit :P

I only had about an hour in the garden today, determined to tidy up the bed which holds the early tulips. I got it done but the wind was whipping up nicely by the end.

I had to chase my kneeler down the garden before it disappeared for good!

This pleione opened today. Doesn't it have a great name? It's a nice little one too, with touches of orange to its hue.

Favourite Orchid

04 March 2014 17:38:57
LC C.G. Roebling 'Sentinel'

LC C.G. Roebling 'Sentinel'

I'm sorry to have to show this cattleya hybrid again but it is my favourite orchid and I want to explain why.

This is Laeliocattleya C.G. Roebling 'Sentinel' and it is an intergenetic hybrid - a cross of the genera cattleya and laelia, hence the compound name of 'laeliocattleya', sometimes abbreviated to 'LC'.

I love the shape of the flowers, with their wavy petals, the colour and the overall proportions of this tall plant. It is a hybrid but everything about it says 'species', as far as I'm concerned. Some cattleya hybrid flowers can be quite 'blobby' but I think this one has a lot of grace.

I have four flowering spikes this year, despite the plant being still in quite a small pot and I love the fact that it is not too hard to cultivate and flower.

Finally, Laeliocattleya C.G. Roebling 'Sentinel' has a delicate spicy scent, which comes in gentle wafts.

The funny thing is that I ended up with this plant by accident. It can be very hard to choose what to buy, especially when you haven't seen a whole lot of orchids in reality and have no one to recommend. But I am very happy about this 'accident'.

Baby Plants

04 March 2014 09:44:25
Baby Plants

Baby Plants

It's lovely to see new growth on baby plants.

This lot were mostly grown from seed last year and were too small to plant out so they have had to be overwintered.

I did a job on them a few days ago, removing any moss that had grown on the compost surface. It's a job best done before the plants try to break up through it.

It is nice to go through and remember what I sowed. It has been so long and I saw so little of them last year (because they were babies) that each plant is like a nice surprise, especially if it starts coming up again!

Cautleya spicata, Cordyline indivisa, Lobelia siphilitica and tree peonies, to name a few. Let them grow strong and steady now!

Greenhouse & Indoors

03 March 2014 19:52:34

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It was terribly cold last night.

The poor plants in the greenhouse must be getting very mixed signals these days.

The light is very welcome though.


02 March 2014 14:35:31

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Big disaster yesterday!

Our cat, Hugo, managed to knock down the orchids on the kitchen window sill (about 8 big ones).

It's the first time he's ever done that and admittedly one big orchid was quite wobbly but I couldn't believe it when I came in and saw the mess.

Amazingly none were broken!

Tropical Pitchers

01 March 2014 10:20:27
Nepenthes x ventrata

Nepenthes x ventrata

I liked the way the sun caught these tropical pitcher plants on my window sill yesterday.

A bit wet out but it could shape up to be a nice day.

I've added the last of the February photos to the album...

Douentza, Feb 2014


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